Friday's Magic Word | Magic Basketball

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Oct 29

Friday’s Magic Word

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Perhaps the most surprising element of the Orlando Magic’s 112-83 victory was the play of Mickael Pietrus; specifically, the fact that he didn’t play in the first half. Stan Van Gundy wanted to stick to a nine-man rotation, and that surprisingly left both Pietrus and Ryan Anderson on the outside looking in. We knew there was a chance Anderson might not play – it was either him or Brandon Bass – but Pietrus riding the pine? Not many saw that one coming, including Pietrus himself. [...] Pietrus won’t have long to hold on to it, as he’ll most certainly be called on tonight against the Miami Heat. With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the floor most of the night, Pietrus’ abilities will be necessary to guard one of those players throughout the game.”
  • Dwight Howard on tonight’s game: “We can make a statement. But we don’t want to go out there and be so hyped emotionally that you forget your purpose. We know we’re going to be playing against a team that’s gotten all the hype all year. And our biggest thing is coming out and executing the right way, limiting their possessions and making them play against us. That’s the biggest thing. I think when you go into a game that’s hyped up and very emotional, that stuff wears off as the game goes on. So, we just come out and weather the storm, because they’re going to come out hyped and ready to go. If we weather the storm early, we should win.”
  • Howard missed a lot of free throws against the Washington Wizards, and had to do push-ups because of it. Willie Mays Hayes, anyone?
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post performs an excellent interview with Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus and asks him a variety of questions related to the Orlando Magic. Here’s a snippet from Pelton: “In some sort of hypothetical situation where I did not have to deal with the players’ reactions to their minutes, I would probably play Anderson and [Rashard] Lewis fairly equally at power forward, give Lewis 10-15 minutes a night at small forward and leave Bass on the bench. Anderson is, to me, pretty comfortably the superior player. I totally understand why Stan Van Gundy wants to use all three guys, however.”
  • Michael Wallace of The Heat Index previews the rivalry between the Magic and the Miami Heat.
  • Five things to watch for with the Heat.
  • Rob Peterson of NBA FanHouse does a fantastic job of chronicling head coach Stan Van Gundy’s press conference decorum: “Like Phil Jackson, who sometimes speaks to reporters as if his 11 championship rings gives him carte blanche to condescend and Gregg Popovich, who on occasion treats the media as if they were dim cattle, Van Gundy suffers no fools. But compared the other two, Van Gundy is an unvarnished grinder, buoyed in the knowledge that his knowledge of the game is far greater than your knowledge of anything else. Most impressive was his use of the word “look,” which could take on many implications depending on the tone of his voice or his body language.”
  • Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse: “The Magic, beaten by Boston last spring in the conference final, has been quietly impressive this fall, even if no one else cared. They won all seven exhibition games by an average of 26 points. They won their opener against the dreadful Wizards by 29 points. Now they will play the game they’ve been waiting to play for months.”
  • I wonder what that game is?
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward takes a look at in-game strategy for Orlando and Miami: “The Heat will almost certainly have to help center Joel Anthony, who is listed as 20 pounds lighter than Howard but is probably giving up more weight than that. Orlando loves to play an inside-out game and allow its elite three-point shooting to burn opponents that double-team Howard. But if there are two defenders capable of helping on Howard without sacrificing too much team defensive integrity, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James fit that description. They are long, quick and athletic enough to create some chaos without yielding clean passing lanes and uncontested shots. As I’ve said before, I expect Miami to take a page from the U.S.’ gold-medal winning World Championship team when facing an elite back-to-the-basket big man. That is: Have your most athletic players fly around the court to create confusion and force turnovers. It worked for the United States in Turkey, but it never faced anyone like Howard or a three-point shooting army as accurate as Orlando’s. Of course, Miami could choose to stay at home and let Howard go to work on its big men. We’ll see.”
  • Matt Moore of CBSSports.com with a must-read article on Howard’s attitude towards the Heat: “After talking to Howard this summer? I immediately started predicting he would average over 30 points a game against the Heat. And I’m still convinced that will happen. That’s pretty much what you get out of Howard when you bring up the Heat. As he has dealt with the talk of this team all. Summer. Long. Howard has heard no end to the talk about Miami and the new super core. It started plaguing him right after it happened, prompting him to decline questions about Miami for a time, until he realized it was pointless. In Chicago, he was friendly with Wade, the way superstar NBA players are. It’s a brotherhood, after all, and in the end these guys know that one another helps them get paid. But there were still moments where you could tell Howard’s motivation has grown and expanded after listening to the Heat hype for three solid months. Make no mistake, behind the lighthearted superhero facade is a man who is very bitter over the way three players have supplanted themselves not only above him in the preseason rankings, but butted him out of his own state. Florida is supposed to be Howard’s home, and instead all he hears about are his neighbors to the south. This has disturbed him, compounding the anger and frustration left over from a postseason where the Celtics took the bite out of the dog and left his team whimpering as they advanced to the Finals. Boston returned Orlando to where most people consider it: also-ran status. Miami has made it a sideshow. Howard doesn’t like that. Howard Smash.”
  • Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones explains why Howard has broad shoulders.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie has more on Howard’s in-game calisthenics: “Howard, clearly bemused and frustrated all at once, went to the end of the bench, and started doing push-ups. The TNT cameras, as you can see above, clearly caught him. Then the cameras panned away toward live action, but, yep, Dwight was still doing push-ups in the background. [...] But Magic coach Stan Van Gundy seems impressively unaware.”
  • You know who else is tired of talking about Miami? Yes, Marcin Gortat.
  • Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook breaks down the Magic’s win from last night.
  • Seats are still available for the Heat’s regular season home opener!
  • Bill Simmons of ESPN’s Page 2: “You know who has the most to gain with the 2010-11 Miami Heat other than LeBron and Wade? Dwight Howard. He could and should rip them apart much like Wilt ran amok in the 1960s against 6-foot-8 white guys who smoked butts at halftime. Does he have it in him? Will Howard ever be anything other than an awesome physical specimen who happens to play basketball only because it’s the sport that made the most sense for him?”
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